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Exchanging vanity for resilience

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On February 8 the Western Morning News reported that transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s “first priority” was to get the Great Western Dawlish seafront line reopened “to a high level of resilience”. He repeated that engineers “remained hopeful” that repairs would be completed within six weeks, and a second railway through the West country ‘would be considered’ as part of a newly commissioned report into the peninsula’s weakened infrastructure.

[“‘All options still on the table’, Transport Secretary says as WMN campaign for dual rail routes continues”, WMN, 8 Feb 2014]

Network Rail, which is drawing up the study, has put a price tag of between £500 million and £700 million on the alternative cross-country route.

Managing director Patrick Hallgate said a scheme would be beset with problems and was “not going to happen in five or ten years, if ever”.

Mr Hallgate’s comment is a reiteration of Network Rail’s lack of interest in maintaining lines “to a high level of resilience” in the South West. In 2012, Cowley Bridge Junction, north of Exeter, was closed by flooding in both November and December. Network Rail’s response was to propose mounting signal and telecoms equipment at the Junction on stilts, rather than tackle the flooding itself.

In 2013 Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s route asset management director, said a detailed study had been carried out after the [Cowley Bridge] flooding.

[‘Cowley Bridge flooding concerns raised‘, BBC News, July 2013]

I think it’s very important to state that we’re not proposing to stop the flooding at Cowley Bridge,” he told BBC News.

South West rail resilience is not a matter of rebuilding the GW coastal line at Dawlish

South West rail resilience is not a matter of rebuilding the GW coastal line at Dawlish

If HS2 is not cancelled, the likelihood of sufficient funding being available for resilient rail infrastructure looks remote.

Many rail upgrade and resilience projects in South East England are unaffordable if HS2 goes ahead

Many rail upgrade and resilience projects in South East England are unaffordable if HS2 goes ahead

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Written by beleben

February 12, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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